the ballet of building the VMC canopy

October 21st, 2016

Vaughan Metropolitan Centre – Spadina Subway Station

The giant sections of structural steel canopy were installed this fall in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] area – right in the middle of Highway 7 West – and it was a ballet of precision.

Having a large structure like this arise in the centre of a roadway is an incredibly unique construction event.

That’s why we made sure we were out on the corridor watching and recording the action to share with all of you.

The largest section lifted was 25,000 lbs – over 11,300 kg! You can read more about this new Vivastation, and check out the video to see how this feat was done.


Questions or comments? Comment below or email us at To stay up-to-date on construction, sign up for email updates at


designing for the future

October 20th, 2016

Who can remember? Not so long ago Highway 7 in Markham and Richmond Hill was a suburban highway: a few isolated developments, lots of parking lots and open fields, but no sidewalks, no plantings, no bike lanes–and certainly no dedicated rapid transit bus lanes. Just look at it now!

In only a few years from start to finish, construction begins and is completed on each of the rapidway projects. In the world of infrastructure renewal, vivaNext construction projects are known to be implemented very efficiently, and we’re doing everything we can to maintain that great reputation.

years of work are behind the design

What’s not so apparent to the public is the lengthy design process that happens long before construction starts. Design of the many engineering and architectural elements must take place stage by stage. Throughout, the designers need to balance staying true to the original vision with making it work in different conditions and geographical areas.

a variety of disciplines at work

VivaNext uses a multi-disciplined design team including: engineers who specialize in civil, traffic, structural, geotechnical, electrical and transit systems; architects; environmental consultants; landscape architects, security experts and more.

many stakeholders weigh in

At each stage, different options and features are reviewed, adjusted and improved with input from municipal staff, utility companies, local conservation authorities, property owners and others. Depending on the location of the project, specific design issues are addressed in conjunction with the owners of adjacent infrastructure including GO Transit, 407 ETR, CN, and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

the stages of each project

The process is not a fast one; the Environmental Assessment process, which established the conceptual design for vivaNext, was begun in 2002, and the whole process for any one segment from Preliminary Engineering to service start may take 6 or more years. Here’s an overview of the stages each of our projects go through, before shovels can hit the ground.

•    Environmental Assessment [EA]: The EA examines alternatives and identifies a preferred design. The vivaNext conceptual design shows the approach for individual segments like the number of rapidway and traffic lanes, boulevards and planting zones and the arrangement of stops and stations. The EA then identifies potential design impacts on the natural and built environment, traffic, noise, drainage, property, etc., and proposed strategies to avoid or mitigate and monitor them.

•    Preliminary Design: This stage takes design to approximately 30% completion and establishes the outlines of the project including its alignment and profile, what additional property is needed to build the project, development of major components like bridges or culverts for water crossings, entrances and intersections, utilities, and listing permits and approvals.

•    Detail Design: This stage fleshes out the preliminary design for all elements. For example, preliminary design may identify that a high retaining wall will be needed at a specific location; 60% design will show the kind of foundation needed and the wall’s general construction; 90% design will show the colour and design of the material to be used on the outside of the wall, and 100% will show all details and specifications required to construct the work.

•    Issued-for-Construction Drawings: These are the final design drawings to be used by the contractors, once all approvals are complete.

By the time vivaNext is complete, all our projects will share the original design vision, but their individual design will reflect local requirements and various conditions. Each segment is tailor-made to be functional, convenient and beautiful, with the primary goal of providing a rapid transit system for the future. Which is, and always has been, the ultimate vivaNext design objective.

celebrating the completion of the Davis Drive rapidway

October 12th, 2016

YouTube video: timelapse of Davis Drive

Last week, the Honourable Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation; Wayne Emmerson, Chairman and CEO, The Regional Municipality of York; Bruce McCuaig, President and CEO, Metrolinx; the Chairman of the YRRTC Board, Frank Scarpitti, Mayor of the City of Markham and Tony Van Bynen, Mayor of the Town of Newmarket, joined together to celebrate the transformation of Newmarket, with the completion of the bus rapid transit (BRT) rapidway project on Davis Drive.

The Davis Drive rapidway was opened for the new Viva service in November 2015, extending 2.7 kilometres from Yonge Street to Roxborough Road, with service continuing in mixed traffic another 2.3 kilometres with curbside stops and a turn-around at the new park and ride facility at Highway 404. This past spring, crews began work on the finishing touches such as planting trees and installing the last sections of sidewalk.

Rapid transit along Davis Drive promotes growth and development, and supports the priorities of the Town of Newmarket’s Strategic Plan, York Region’s Centres and Corridors plan, Metrolinx’s Regional Transportation Plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) and Ontario’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

Along with providing a convenient new travel option, the Davis Drive rapidway project helped transform Newmarket with updated utilities, new infrastructure such as a water main and the Keith Bridge, and wider boulevards. These improvements will help support the continued growth and development in Newmarket’s town centre.

The Davis Drive rapidway has been years in the making. We’ve captured the entire transformation on video. Through all the planning, design and construction there’s something special about knowing that you’ve contributed to the future growth and prosperity of entire neighbourhoods, towns and regions by connecting people to the places they work, shop and play.

We would like to sincerely thank the community, businesses and residents that have supported the project from the outset, and endured the disruptions that come with long term construction. Your patience, understanding and feedback have been invaluable. Newmarket now has a rapid transit system we can all be proud of and enjoy for many years to come.


what’s happening this fall on Highway 7 West and Bathurst & Centre

October 5th, 2016

After a summer of paving on Highway 7 West, water main work on Bathurst, and a whole lot of finishing touches along the rapidway in Vaughan, there’s much more to come this fall.

Here’s what you can expect to see over the next couple of months:

the VMC area

If you’ve driven by the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] area on Highway 7 West between Edgeley Blvd. and Jane Street, you’ll have seen the sudden rise of the huge steel canopy that will become the BRT station, VMC Spadina-Subway Station.

This unique vivastation will be extra-long and provide total coverage, also it will connect the rapidway with the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension and an inter-regional bus station, SmartREIT Terminal-VMC. This fall, workers are continuing to install and weld the giant structure.

the CN Bridge

Crews are busy working on sidewalks on both the north and south side of Highway 7 this fall. In addition, water seal testing is pretty much complete.

bike lanes, bike boxes and crosswalks street printing

Over the past month, crews have been installing the striped crosswalk street printing at intersections on Highway 7 West.

And in the next few weeks, they will be painting lines for bicycle lanes and laying the bright green street bond on bike lanes on either side of intersections and bike boxes at key corners, between Edgeley/Interchange and Bowes/Baldwin. Bike boxes allow cyclists to avoid crossing three lanes of busy traffic to reach the left-turn lanes, and act as a safe, designated waiting area.

Construction on Highway 7 between Jane and Bowes/Baldwin will wrap up by the end of the year.

Highway 7 West in Woodbridge

This area is mostly seeing pre-construction activities this fall to prepare for road widening in the spring. These will include culvert work, median removals, tree removals, and temporary traffic pole installation.

Bathurst and Centre

Water main work is continuing on Bathurst Street this fall and will start up on Centre Street as well. In addition, temporary traffic signals have gone up at intersections on Bathurst will be installed on Centre this fall. In addition, crews will also soon be busy with utility relocations.

It’s always exciting to see progress. Thank you everyone for your patience as the rapidway projects proceed!

Questions or comments? Comment below or email us at To stay up-to-date on construction, sign up for email updates at

the last mile is the hardest

September 28th, 2016

the last mile is the hardest

The “last mile” has a reputation. It’s been known as the hardest and the greatest, the final step in getting somewhere, regardless of what that involves [or how far it actually is].

Earlier this month, Ryerson City Building Institute released a video trailer in advance of a Last Mile Meetup event they hosted. The video and meetup invited conversation about the #LastMile, and was the basis for a Toronto Star article. The GTA includes lots of suburban cities and towns. And where there are suburbs, there is that last mile challenge – the beginning and end of a commute to work or school. While most of the commute might be easily done with rapid transit, the last mile usually relies on driving, cycling, walking or taking local transit.

Driving that last mile to a commuter transit station might mean parking in a massive, overcrowded parking lot. Walking or cycling are natural choices as long as there are safe, accessible places to and from the station – this of course depends on weather and the distance travelled. Transit is a good option, but we understand that bus schedules don’t always fit in with the always-in-a-hurry commuter and routes may not get riders close enough to their final destination.

This last leg of the journey can make or break the commute. It’s often the deciding factor on whether the entire commute will be done by car or by transit. Everyone’s trip is unique, and might involve extra stops along the way, like picking up kids from a babysitter or stopping for groceries. So there need to be options, and each option needs to be flexible. To arrive at the right solutions for the last mile, most agree that new ideas need to be piloted, such as the dial-a-ride service in York Region, carpooling, ride-sharing, and safe and secure places for walking and cycling.

It comes down to mobility and quality of life. Mobility is about being able to get to and from where you live easily. Your daily quality of life may depend on how you travel that last leg of the journey – is your last mile the hardest… or the greatest?


detecting vehicles at traffic lights >> a mystery solved

September 21st, 2016

detecting vehicles at traffic lights >> a mystery solved

If you receive construction emails from us, you might know that we’ve installed vehicle detector loops at intersections with traffic signals. But if you’re like most people, traffic lights, and their various components [what are vehicle detector loops, anyway?] are probably one of those subjects you don’t give a lot of thought to. So next time you’re waiting for that light to change, here’s a primer on vehicle detector loops, and why you’ll be glad we’re installing them as part of our projects.

To begin with, vehicle detector loops [the technical term is “inductive-loop vehicle detectors”] are flat, loose coils of wire covered in light plastic, which are buried in the asphalt under the lanes at an intersection.

In York Region, most of our vehicle detector loops are approximately 4 metres square, and extend from the pedestrian crosswalk and across the stop bar [the wide white line going across each traffic lane at intersections] for approximately 15 metres.

The point of a vehicle detector loop is to detect when vehicles are sitting at the intersection. Vehicle detector loops are able to do this through a process of magnetic induction, which results when metal objects [i.e., vehicles] are nearby. Put simply, the presence of the vehicle results in a change in the magnetic field of the loop. This change is detected by the traffic signal controller [a large box located near every signaled intersection], which in turn sends a message to the traffic signal to begin turning from red to green.

York Region owns and or maintains 848 signalized intersections [traffic lights occasionally are used in other settings such as single lanes through construction zones]. Most of York Region’s traffic loops are located on side street lanes, in left turn lanes to activate advanced left turn signals, and on rapidways to detect transit vehicles.

The Region also uses “Matrix” vehicle detection, a pole-mounted system using radar imaging, in construction zones where lanes are moved, and where it’s problematic to install traffic loops. For more information on the technology of traffic signals, check out

Ultimately, traffic loops improve the performance of an intersection, helping traffic flow by detecting you better.


form meets function where Viva meets the subway

September 14th, 2016

form meets function where Viva meets the subway

There’s a lot happening near Highway 7 and Jane Street right now. With the subway extension, bus rapidway, bus terminal, and commercial and residential buildings being built, it’s difficult to distinguish one construction project from the other. In the past week though, one project has become more visible.

In the middle of Highway 7, between Jane Street and the Highway 400 ramps, a huge structure is being built. The VMC-Spadina Subway vivastation will play an important part of this transit-oriented area, connecting Viva customers to the subway below.

The station is supersized with longer and wider platforms, and the roof will cover the entire rapidway. Customers will be able to access the concourse below via elevator or stairs to access the new subway extension or walk a few minutes underground to catch YRT or Züm at a new bus terminal.

A few fun facts about the station:

  • Single canopy is 50m long x 22m wide – bigger than the other vivastations to accommodate more bus and passenger traffic.
  • Steel structure assembled as three roof sections [now installed]; eight ladder sections [the first just arrived]; and 70 smaller infill sections.
  • Uses a combination of aluminum, painted steel, ceramic frit and tinted glass panels – overall, the station will appear light grey with blue and white accents.
  • Up-lighting will illuminate the lattice pattern of steel supports and glass panels on the roof.
  • Real-time bus arrival screens in station waiting areas, and underground at concourse level.
  • Heated and unheated waiting areas on each platform.
  • 100% coverage by security cameras.
  • Windscreens to block the prevailing wind – potential showcases for public art.
  • Hidden rainwater gutters and downspouts to drain water under the roadway.

The steel structure can be seen in the middle of Highway 7, and this will take a couple of months to put into position, and another couple of months of welding. As you’ll soon see, this station will make the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre area look very different. And once it opens in 2018, will connect everyone to where they need to go.


learning outside the classroom

September 7th, 2016

learning outside the classroom

While your kids may lament the early mornings and long days that come with being back in school, there’s no denying the amount of pride they feel when they learn something new.  This fall, embrace learning by visiting York Region’s centres of culture and education.

Markham: Flato Markham Theatre

Located just off of Highway 7 at Warden Avenue, Flato Markham Theatre is a cultural destination for everyone, regardless of their tastes or interests.  This season, Flato Markham Theatre is housing a wide variety of showcases.  From concerts, to tributes, to dance shows, to local theatrical productions, there’s something for everyone, and with it’s convenient location at Highway 7 and Warden, everyone can get there with Viva.

Vaughan: Ansley Grove Library

Ansley Grove Library is attached to Chancellor Community Centre just north of Highway 7 in Woodbridge, and is home to a variety of books, magazines and multimedia materials in many languages including English, French and Italian.  The library also features a children’s room, where events for little ones are put on throughout the year. When you’re done, take an easy walk to Highway 7, where transit will get you home.

Newmarket: Elman W. Campbell Museum

Located on Historical Main Street in the heart of Newmarket, the Elman W. Campbell Museum serves as an educational connection to Newmarket’s history.  The museum is a non-profit educational centre created to preserve and display local artifacts. The Elman W. Campbell Museum also hosts events, including Culture Days open houses and family Halloween parties. This destination is a “can’t miss” for those looking for a compelling, educational outing, just a short walk from Viva Yellow.

These are just a few – every town or city has places to learn and experience culture and history. YRT and Viva will get you to and from the theatre, the library and museum, and since you don’t have to do the driving, bring some reading material and learn on the road! Wondering what your transit options are? Try downloading the YRT/Viva app!


- Sydney Grant, student Public Relations Coordinator


connecting the drops

August 31st, 2016

connecting the drops

The importance of upgrading Canada’s infrastructure is everywhere in the news these days. Infrastructure includes everything from bridges to roads and transit, to utilities such as hydro lines, sewers and water mains. Each vivaNext project includes improvements to infrastructure and utilities, leaving a lasting legacy for residents and businesses. One of the most important pieces of infrastructure is a water main – bringing fresh water to your mealtime prep, your kids’ bath tub and even your local swimming pool. In Richmond Hill, the residents and businesses connecting to Yonge Street are getting a new, modern water main to prepare for future growth.

Although to some people it might not seem very glamorous, an important example of a major infrastructure improvement is the replacement of the Richmond Hill water main, which we’re doing as part of the vivaNext Yonge Street rapidway project. This work will replace 3.7 kilometres of water main along Yonge Street from just south of Garden Avenue [north of Highway 407] to Major Mackenzie Drive. The water main, which supplies water to the adjacent residents, is owned and maintained by the Town of Richmond Hill, with construction done by the vivaNext Design Build contractor.

Water main replacements, especially in busy thoroughfares like Yonge Street, require complex planning for design, staging and construction. As with all our work, we need to find a balance between a number of competing priorities. One priority is to maintain service to households and businesses who depend on the water main. Another priority is to get the work done in a way that minimizes disruption to traffic. And, as always, we need to plan the design and construction in a way that gets the most value for money, including future maintenance costs.

To avoid existing underground utilities and simplify construction, we’ll relocate the water main to run under the traffic lanes on Yonge Street. We also want to avoid locating it under the new planters that will be built along the sidewalk, in the event that future maintenance on the water main is needed.

Replacement water mains are generally located as close as possible to the original water main, to preserve existing connections to residences and businesses. As a result, construction proceeds more slowly to avoid any damage during excavation to the existing water main, which stays in use until the new one is ready for service.

To minimize disruption to traffic, workers will be building the new water main from inside a trench box, which significantly reduces the amount of space needed to carry out the construction compared to regular excavation. The benefit of constructing in less space is that fewer lane closures are needed during construction, which is critical on Yonge Street.

However, trench box construction has to move more slowly. The rigid trench box also makes it more challenging to work around conflicts with other buried infrastructure. From time to time we can expect progress to slow down while crews get around other underground utilities. Construction will be followed by a lengthy process of pressurizing, cleaning and testing, all to meet very strict government standards.

Once the new water main is ready to go, a new connection to each address along the main route will need to be made, along with additional connections to other water mains at intersections. Individual addresses are relatively straightforward to reconnect, but businesses and multi-unit residential buildings take longer, with connections to larger pipes and fire lines. This process of disconnection and reconnection will be planned ahead, with communication with each residence and business to minimize disruption.

We’re excited that the community is going to be getting a new water main, built to the most modern standards. Our team is working with the community during construction to help minimize any impacts to parking and driveways. And we’ll make sure there’s lots of clear signage to help guide you through construction areas.

It’s a huge project, and it’s going to be pretty messy out there for a while. But long term, it’s great news for the residents of Richmond Hill that this huge investment is being made in infrastructure. We hope this helps explain what the crews are doing out there, and how it makes a difference to the community. For more information on ongoing work be sure to sign up for email updates, and follow us on Twitter.


back, back, back to school again

August 24th, 2016

back, back, back to school again

The sun is starting to rise later and set earlier, backpacks and fall boots are starting to come out of storage, and soon the featured flavour at your favourite coffee shop will switch over from mango pineapple to pumpkin spice. All of this can only mean one thing – back to school season is finally upon us. As the summer winds down, chaotic schedules and busy streets wind up.

Hopping on a bus along one of vivaNext’s rapidways is a quick and convenient alternative to driving, which can help you beat the busy streets. However, if you do choose to drive, we remind you to use caution, and keep an eye out for pedestrians, particularly in school areas. Construction continues on some of our streets, so please drive slowly through work areas with everyone’s safety in mind.

For any back to school shopping you have left to do, be sure to check out the plethora of shops in our construction areas >> Shop 7, Shop Yonge, and Shop Bathurst & Centre!

From all of us at vivaNext, we wish you and your family a happy, safe and successful school year.


- Sydney Grant, student Public Relations Coordinator